What exactly is an emergency fund? It describes money set aside solely as a safety net for unexpected expenses, not the money set aside for a new car or retirement. Most financial experts recommend, and we agree that you save funds equal to between three to six months of necessary living expenses in your emergency fund. That provides enough money to cover your housing, utilities, transportation, and food expenses.
Having a clear understanding of your living expenses will help you put a dollar amount on how much should be in that fund. Defining this amount will provide a goal to strive for maintaining. If you haven’t done the math, write down all of your monthly expenses and determine what you truly need each month to get by.
While that number might seem overwhelming, there are steps you can take to make it feel achievable.
- Setting up automatic deposits from your paycheck is the least painful way to start building that safety net. If you never see it, it is less likely you will miss it. Start with a smaller amount and then adjust it up, if you can, to minimize the adjustment to your readily available cash.
- Using cashback credit cards, such as the Collins Community Credit Union Visa Platinum UChoose Rewards card, allows you to earn points you can redeem for cash. If you typically pay your card balance in full each month, using a credit card with a cash reward option is a great way to add to your emergency fund.
- Allocate a portion of your tax refund to build up your emergency account.
A high-yield savings account is a smart place to keep your emergency fund since they are federally insured up to $250,000. They provide a stable safety net that earns interest too. Also, the funds are easily accessible in a dire situation.
While you don’t want to focus on all of the negative possibilities that could arise in life, it is essential to be ready for them. Stay positive but prepared.